Searching For Birch Trees in Brooklyn | Teen Ink

Searching For Birch Trees in Brooklyn MAG

July 7, 2019
By maeve15 PLATINUM, Brooklyn, New York
maeve15 PLATINUM, Brooklyn, New York
27 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -Oscar Wilde

My father likes it when I read poems aloud 

heading home on the I-95, static playing 

and the road stretched before us. Last Tuesday

I read him “Birches” by Robert Frost, turning each 

word over in my mouth before I spoke so I might

not stumble over the part where the ice-storm arrives 

and heaven falls shattering down to the ground.


Perhaps that’s what snow looks like where 

Robert Frost comes from – heaven-stuff, the kind

that comes down to earth and rests in an empty grain

field asleep in the wintertime, and there’s one boy

standing there, the snow brimming at his knees and just 

his footsteps behind him, so that it looks like he is 

the only thing left alone in the world. I like to imagine 

that the snow looks like bedsheets, the ones still half-warm

from the dryer, and that the boy has snowflakes 

melting on his eyelashes. 


My father sighed when the poem was over (a soft-but-a-little-bit-sad sigh, like he’d been holding his breath) 

and said that’s what makes good poetry: 


knowing simple things, like birches, so well that even 

words written on paper can turn trees into grand things. 


He turned the radio on a bit higher and Billy Joel played. 


The night sky was still and wispy, too light to make out 

the stars through the car window so I leaned back and 

tried to draft a poem in my head. I thought about birch trees

first; outstretched like they were drawn with only a back pen,

paper, and two aching, skinny lines, but somehow 


that poem felt an awful lot like lying. so instead

I thought about sitting on my front stoop, drinking 

ice water from a chipped glass, watching the curtains

flutter in the brownstones across the street. and then I 


thought about the roses. They grow just up the block, 

peeking their noses through the chain link fence – 


they’re light pink things, or maybe white. I couldn’t

remember then, and I can’t remember now,


sitting cross-legged on my bed, rewriting

and rewriting a poem about a poem about life.

trying to imagine what snow is supposed to taste like.

hoping to breathe life back into paper birch trees.

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